Tag Archives: Opinion

OPINION: Random Remembrances of 9/11

by Sharon Maeda

On September 11, 2001, I lived in New York City. Twenty years later, my mind is still full of so many random memories and emotions, just as it was back then. 

In the hours following the attacks, millions of people were trying to contact loved ones. Phone services were overtaxed and everyone was frantic. No one could get in or out of Manhattan; the subways were shut down. I was stuck in a suburban New York Marriott hotel with colleagues at a conference. The Marriott had a policy that when one hotel is attacked, all their neighboring hotels go into lockdown. I was panicked out of my mind. I had no idea where my niece was on her first day of work in New York. Hours later, her mother in Seattle was able to reach me and report that Lea was safe and walking home from Midtown to my place in Washington Heights. At some point, she abandoned her heels and walked all the way up to 190th barefooted. 

Early on, no one understood the source of the terrorism or could have imagined a 20-year war. 

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OPINION: ‘Normal’ Isn’t Good Enough for Returning School Kids

by Marcus Harrison Green

(This article is co-published with The Seattle Times.)

Forgive me if I hope returning school children experience their most abnormal year yet.

Having survived a pandemic, a makeshift move to remote learning, and minimal socialization, I say they’re owed good karma by the metric ton.

But returning to normal won’t settle that debt. 

Continue reading OPINION: ‘Normal’ Isn’t Good Enough for Returning School Kids

OPINION: It’s Time to Put an End to Racially Disparate Police Stops and Searches

by Angélica Cházaro and Anita Khandelwal

Once again, a report has revealed alarming racial disparities in the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) treatment of Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color (BIPOC). The Center for Policing Equity, in a study completed earlier this year, found that Black pedestrians are five times — and Native pedestrians nine times — more likely to be stopped by SPD than white pedestrians. Moreover, BIPOC pedestrians are significantly more likely to be searched than their white counterparts, despite being statistically less likely to carry weapons. While SPD’s data did not allow for analysis of traffic stops, given the pervasiveness of such racial disparities it seems likely that similar ratios would hold for those as well.

Fortunately, the Seattle City Council and King County Council have the power to immediately reduce these harms by adopting two simple pieces of legislation — one that would deprioritize any traffic stops where the driver does not pose an imminent danger of physical harm to others and another that would ban consent searches.

Continue reading OPINION: It’s Time to Put an End to Racially Disparate Police Stops and Searches

OPINION: I Had COVID-19 — Why I Still Got Vaccinated

by April Sims

(This article was originally published by The Stand and has been reprinted under an agreement.)

As governments and employers announce mandates, COVID-19 vaccination is center stage. While 60% of eligible folks in Washington State are fully vaccinated, and the vaccination rate is higher in some job sectors, we know some of the working people we represent have not gotten the vaccine. At the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC), AFL-CIO, we’re working to provide folks with the answers they need to make an informed choice about vaccination. Talking with union members, a question has come up repeatedly: I already had COVID-19, should I still get vaccinated?

In November 2020, my daughter came home from work feeling unwell. An essential worker, she’s one of thousands of working people in Washington who showed up at her job site even as many of us moved our work lives virtual. Two days later, she tested positive for COVID-19.

Within a few days, despite attempts to isolate, my two daughters, my husband, and I all had COVID-19. I’m someone who rarely gets sick, but the coronavirus took me out. My usually energetic family spent well over a week fighting the virus, and even longer recovering from the lingering fatigue. As secretary treasurer of the WSLC, I have access to paid sick leave, but my daughters and husband had to miss work, unpaid, while they recovered.

One thing I know for sure: I never want to have COVID-19 again. And I’ve seen the research that suggests vaccines provide greater protection against serious illness for folks who’ve had COVID-19 previously. All my family members work in community settings, coming in contact with coworkers or community members, and we have loved ones who are high-risk.

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OPINION: City Response to Gun Violence Spike Lacks Compassion, New Ideas

by M. Anthony Davis

The City of Seattle hosted a press conference on the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 31, in response to six shootings over the weekend. City leaders, including Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, City Councilmember Alex Pedersen, and Rex Brown of the City of Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) were present. 

Diaz spoke on many of the recent shootings, including an incident where a man was shot and killed Tuesday morning in Capitol Hill during an alleged attempted robbery. According to Diaz, there have been 100 more shootings in the city compared to this time of year in 2020, and 150 more compared to 2019. 

Instead of using those statistics to argue for new creative solutions to keep communities safe, however, Diaz and Pedersen used the upticks in gun violence to advocate for more Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers. 

“To address the serious spike in gun violence, I believe our City Council needs to partner with both our police department and community nonprofits, for a multipronged response with effective violence prevention programs,” Pedersen said. 

Continue reading OPINION: City Response to Gun Violence Spike Lacks Compassion, New Ideas

OPINION: Political Intermission

by Lola E. Peters

Act One was the campaign. We met the players, learned their public backstories, got hints about their character, and were introduced to the context of their stories. Act Two was the primary: a much shorter period where we learned about ourselves. Through social media, on Zoom calls, and over outdoor happy hour snacks we asked, “Who are you voting for?” or “Can you believe so-and-so is voting for so-and-so?” The end of Act Two revealed who were the players representing minor, though no less important, voices but no longer primary participants in the current play. We also learned whose dramatic arcs would move forward to the next act. 

Here I sit, in the lobby, looking around at my fellow voters, wondering what they were thinking. 

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OPINION: Despite Governor’s Actions, Eviction Crisis Still Looms Large

by Fran Yeatts

“It felt like doing crisis counseling for hundreds of people each month.”

Samantha “Sam” Thompson manages our emergency financial assistance program at the West Seattle Food Bank, and she spends most of her time connecting with West Seattle tenants who need support with overdue rent or utilities. During the pandemic, the number of people needing support went through the roof, and while the lockdowns have ended, the economic impacts for people in West Seattle are ongoing. Our clients include people who lost their jobs during the pandemic, had their hours reduced, or are going to soon lose their unemployment benefits. 

Since the West Seattle Food Bank merged with the West Seattle Helpline in 2020, our services now include both our shopping-style model of food distribution as well as emergency grants for individuals struggling to pay rent or utilities. The merger was well-timed, as need in our community exploded during the pandemic the following year.

Compared to 2019, in 2020 applications for Helpline services — the arm of our organization that provides help with rent and utilities — nearly doubled. Helpline staff and volunteers worked overtime, and to meet the growing need we increased the average amount of our financial assistance grants by 35%. 

Continue reading OPINION: Despite Governor’s Actions, Eviction Crisis Still Looms Large

OPINION: Climate Anxiety Is Not a Diagnosis, It’s a New Reality

by Sarah Stuteville

“Smoke season makes for beautiful sunsets.” I remember the first time I said that — watching the sky streak a deep, gritty pink over Lake Washington. Even more vividly, I recall the hot grief that flared in my chest a moment later. And now there’s a word for that. “Blissonance” refers to the experience of enjoying the natural world alongside parallel awareness of threats to it. And even your contribution to those threats. 

In fact, there’s a lexicon rapidly emerging to help us express the complex and often horrifying experience of living through rapid climate change and its visceral impacts. “Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder” refers to living with a constant sense of imminent and irreversible environmental damage. An “empathetic blench” is the experience of receiving a gift that contributes to environmental destruction (in my world often plastic children’s toys encased in more plastic) from a generous and well-meaning source. “Solastalgia” describes the loss of personally meaningful environments and even weather patterns. With that last one I think of my physical yearning for Seattle’s infamous “June Gloom” during the recent record-busting, and deadly, heatwave.

In the field of counseling, the more common vocabulary includes “eco-anxiety,” “eco-grief,” “climate depression,” and “eco-paralysis.” I learned about these terms at a recent training for “climate-informed” therapists — a professional competency that is, unfortunately, increasingly relevant. 

Continue reading OPINION: Climate Anxiety Is Not a Diagnosis, It’s a New Reality

OPINION: National Products Inc. Pumps Environmental Hazards Into South Park Daily

by Cedar Bushue

(This article originally appeared on Real Change and has been reprinted under an agreement.)

I am a long-term resident of South Park. My family and I have had a home here for three generations. South Park is a small neighborhood in South Seattle, hemmed in by the Duwamish and a couple of highway spurs. It is a residential neighborhood but also home to many industries for Seattle and King County. Our life expectancy here is 8+ years less than Seattle as a whole, according to a 2013 study funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. Because it is a small, minority-majority neighborhood without resources, we are home to a transfer station, many homeless encampments, and many industrial areas.

National Products Incorporated (NPI) is a local company that started in someone’s garage but has grown to overtake a great deal of land in the heart of the neighborhood, displacing many neighbors as well as several stately trees that provided wildlife habitat and shade for the human inhabitants. Incidentally, this facility is directly across from one of the main neighborhood parks.

Because South Park is small and its residents don’t make a fuss, companies like NPI can pretty much do whatever they want while the County willingly ignores or happily rubber stamps every expansion plan. 

Continue reading OPINION: National Products Inc. Pumps Environmental Hazards Into South Park Daily

OPINION: Liquor Cannabis Board Agents May be Operating Beyond Their Legal Authority

by Luna Reyna

Washington State is grappling with police violence and accountability issues. Over the past year, we have witnessed citizens’ frustration spill into the streets, many demanding to defund the police entirely. Meanwhile, more than $24 million in cannabis taxes are going to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) whose Liquor Enforcement Officers (LEO) are issued uniforms with police patches and jackets with “POLICE” plastered in front and back despite not having adequate training or the authority these things allude to. LCB vehicles have also been modified with the same red and blue strobe lights as typical police cars. Until a security risk management firm review in 2019, all agents carried a mandatory firearm. Another $5.6 million goes to an actual drug enforcement task force run by Washington State Patrol.

After Initiative 502 (I-502) passed in 2012, which made Washington the second state in the country to legalize recreational cannabis, it was largely celebrated. Many supporters had hopes that Washington’s recreational cannabis industry could be a template for other states that weren’t far behind. In the excitement to legalize cannabis, the existing regulatory body, the Washington State Liquor Control Board, was renamed the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) and tasked with the licensing and regulation of all marijuana production, processing, and sales. Within weeks, the newly appointed LCB leaders violated open public meetings law by meeting at least 17 times with local police and prevention groups privately. 

This has colored the ways in which the LCB has operated since. Just a few months after I-502 was passed, the LCB attempted to classify LEO as a general authority Washington law enforcement agency through proposed legislation HB 1876, which would have amended current law to include a “peace officer or enforcement officer of the state liquor board” in the definitions of both “criminal justice personnel” and “law enforcement personnel.” The amended language would have changed what was largely intended to simply be a regulatory agency into an agency with the authority to arrest lawbreaking individuals, write search warrants, access criminal databases, or perform similar key functions in conducting criminal investigations like any other state police officer.

Continue reading OPINION: Liquor Cannabis Board Agents May be Operating Beyond Their Legal Authority